Alpha players enjoy success in Galway

The newly refurbished Galway Lawn and Tennis Club was the venue for the Forza Under 13 and Under 17 Nationals last weekend and it was great to see Alpha players Jeffrey Rong returning with the U13 Boys Singles title and partnered Robert Cowman to the Boys Doubles crown.

Alpha's Paige and Chloe Woods were crowned U17 national champions in Galway

After losing out in the final of the Under 19 Irish Nationals back at the beginning of November when they had to be satisfied with runner-up sisters Chloe and Paige Woods were crowned U17 National Doubles champions beating Alpha clubmate Laura Bell and Neasa Flynn though their opponents certainly didn’t make things easy for them.

Indeed it was the unseeded Bell and Flynn who had knocked out the No2 seeds Orlaith Evans and Nicole Joy in their quarter final clash on a 21-16 18-21 21-19 score-line after a 35 minute marathon.

There were also to see off the victors of their Alpha club mates Jasmine Buchanan and Roisin McKenna at the quarter-final stage.

Alpha's Jeffrey Rong was a star in Galway.JPG

But it was the Woods sisters who sprang the first major surprise of the event by ending the hopes of the top seeded Chloe McGrane and Michelle Shochan in their first match on court.

The 33 minute clash could not have been closer with the Alpha pair claiming the opening set 21-19 only for their top seeded opponents drawing level 21-17.

Having had to be content with losing in the semi-final of the doubles in the Under 19 Nationals back at the start of November, the Alpha pair stepped up their challenge in the decider to book their place in the semi-final 21-19 with a clash against the Raphoe pair Cara Eaton and Kimberly Pearson as their reward.

With the promise of a place in the final if they could end the hopes of the Eaton/Pearson partnership, the Lisburn pair gave a commanding performance as they saw off their opponents 21-5 21-11.

Up next were Neasa Flynn and a player they know well from their own club Laura Bell, who were themselves to book their place in the final with a comprehensive 21-12 21-16 victory over Saumya Kothiyal and Aishlinn Murtagh.

Both partnerships could not have been more committed to securing this coveted title and, as the score-line suggests, there was little between the two partnerships with the Bell/Flynn partnership narrowly taking the opening set 22-20 only for the Woods sisters to take the match into a deciding set by claiming the second 21-10.

The decider however was a much more one-sided affair with the Woods clinching the title 21-7.

Chris Chee causes upset to lift mixed doubles title

Alpha’s Chris Chee will surely recall the Forza U13 Irish Nationals for a very long time as he recorded probably his biggest win in his albeit brief badminton career to date when he partnered Michelle Shochan to end the hopes of the highly fancied No2 seeds Richard Kong/Eva Bogoslovskaya in the Under 17 Mixed Doubles in the semi-final.

Chris typically never knows when he is beaten and this certainly was in evidence as they had to turn around a one set deficit but came through to book their place in the final 21-16 21-16.

With the prospect of facing in the final the hot favourites on the way to snatching the coveted title from the hands of Paige Woods - who had already lifted the girls doubles title - and Dylan Noble - who was runner-up to Matthew Cheung in the Singles and lifted the Doubles title with Cheung and they had yet to drop a single set.

This was quite a formidable achievement for Chee and his partner Miss Shochan who were to shock their opponents to take the title 21-18 23-21.

The Chee/Shochan partnership had a difficult enough opener being pushed to the limit by Jack Bridgeman/Aishlinn Murtagh before booking their place in the quarter-final 21-19 21-16 and their 21-14 13-21 21-17 win could have gone either way.

Cheung retains singles title

Matthew Cheung was to lift two U17 titles, the singles beating number one seed Dylan Noble 21-17 21-17 with the singles finalists being crowned boys doubles champions having never been troubled in the competition.

Jeffrey lifts singles crown

In the Under 13 Nationals Rong was the top seed in each of his disciplines, winning the singles with typical prowess, without dropping a single set on his way to the title and beating Robert Cowman 21-16 21-8.

There was another excellent performance from another Alpha youngster Conor Blakeman who gave number two seed Corey Chambers something to think about as he stretched him to 21-18 in the second set.

Rong partnered Amira Pender to the mixed title and the top seeds were never troubled as was the case in the Boys Doubles when he partnered Robert Cowman to a 21-12 21-8 win over Conor Blakeman and Corey Chambers.

Ella Cheung, younger sister of Mathew, is a relative newcomer this season to the winner’s rostrum in badminton but can be more than happy with her performances in the Girls Singles reaching the semi-final only going out to the top seeded Amira Pender.